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President Theodore Roosevelt Responds to Praise from U.S. Steel President
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I believe, and certainly sincerely hope, that your position about me is correct.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Typed Letter Signed, to Elbert Henry Gary, July 1, 1907, Oyster Bay, New York. On “The White House” letterhead. 1 p., 7-1/8 x 8-7/8 in.

Inventory #26174.06       Price: $575

Complete Transcript

The White House.

                                                                        Oyster Bay, N.Y.,
                                                                        July 1, 1907.


My dear Judge Gary:

            That is a very nice letter of yours, and I believe, and certainly sincerely hope, that your position about me is correct. As soon as I return to Washington I shall get you to come down for lunch or dinner, when I can have a talk over the real situation with you.

            With regards to Mrs. Gary, believe me,

                                                                        Sincerely yours,
                                                            Theodore Roosevelt




Hon. E. H. Gary,
71 Broadway, / New York.


Historical Background
On June 26, 1907, E. H. Gary, the President and Chairman of the Board of U.S. Steel, wrote to President Roosevelt, informing him that he was sailing for Europe on July 9 and would be gone for two months. He asked if he could drive to Oyster Bay to visit with the President, but concluded, “I know how much you are burdened with requests, and therefore would not be surprised to learn you are too busy to see me.”

President Roosevelt responded to Gary’s request the next day with a brief letter, expressing his hope that Gary could visit him in Washington, when he returned to the White House, but clearly not wishing to alienate the steel magnate. Two days later, Gary responded, “It is not at all important for me to see you now. Indeed I have nothing of importance to talk about. I have no favors to ask and no criticisms to make. I am with you and for you all the time.” Gary confessed that he merely wanted to discuss “general business conditions.” He continued, “As I read and construe your speeches it seems to me that a large percentage of business men, including some of my associates, are wrong in their diagnosis and prognosis. I believe we shall all find that you have really been simply weeding out and cleaning up, and therefore laying the foundation for what will prove to be the great[est] constructive policy that any President has ever been credited with.” Gary concluded by requesting that Roosevelt “pardon me for even suggesting that I trespass upon your time during vacation.”

Roosevelt responded with this letter, but he did not return to the White House until September 26.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was born in New York City, graduated from Harvard University in 1880, and attended Columbia Law School. He served in the New York State Assembly from 1882 to 1884, and as president of the New York City Police Commissioners in 1895 and 1896, then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1897 to 1898. After service in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, he won election as Governor of New York and served from 1899 to 1900. He ran as Vice President to William McKinley in 1900 and became President in September 1901, when McKinley was assassinated. Reelected in 1904, Roosevelt was President until 1909. A prolific author and naturalist, Roosevelt was instrumental in the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century, helped preserve the nation’s natural resources, and extended American power throughout the world with a focus on a modern navy. In 1912, he again sought the Republican nomination for President, but when the convention chose incumbent William Howard Taft, Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party and outpolled Taft in the general election. The Republican division allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.

Elbert Henry Gary (1846-1927) was born in Illinois and graduated first in his class from the Union College of Law (Northwestern University School of Law) in 1868. He began to practice law in Chicago in 1871 and also co-founded a bank with his uncle. He served as a county judge from 1882 to 1890, and as mayor of Wheaton, Illinois, in the 1890s. He served as president of the Chicago Bar Association in 1893-94. In 1898, he became president of the Federal Steel Corporation in Chicago and retired from the practice of law. Two years later, Gary moved to New York City, where he and J. P. Morgan collaborated to found the U.S. Steel Corporation. Gary served as chairman of the board of America’s first billion-dollar corporation from 1901 until his death and as president from 1903 to 1911. In 1904, Gary offered President Theodore Roosevelt a deal. U.S. Steel would open its books to the Bureau of Corporations, but if the Bureau found evidence of wrongdoing, it would warn the corporation privately and give it an opportunity to remedy the situation. Roosevelt accepted the “gentlemen’s agreement.”

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